14ymedio, Havana, 22 November 2023 – Far from bringing joy to the fans of Gallos de Sancti Spíritus in the baseball Elite League, their score of victories has only created disagreement. If some of the fans do applaud the games of the national sport and say they’re a respite in the middle of the current crisis, others observe with concern that they are always played at night and under floodlights. The choice, for those who are critical of the use of artificial lighting at the José Antonio Huelga stadium, is simple: “It’s better to have power at home than have baseball”.
This Sunday, the official paper Escambray published an article which echoed this debate. Both sides, argued the paper, have good arguments, whether it’s that daytime matches can reduce the players’ performance due to fatigue from the hot sunshine, or, by playing at night they use power which could be put to better use in the homes of local people.
“We’re all having to put up with hours and hours of power cuts whilst the stadium continues to be switched on”, José Daniel tells 14ymedio
“We’re all having to put up with hours and hours of power cuts whilst the stadium continues to be switched on”, José Daniel tells 14ymedio. Daniel, a Spíritus resident, admits the topic has been a source of some disagreement between him and his friends. “I myself don’t like sport, but even if I did and even if I went to the games it would seem to me a nonsense that people can’t cook their food because there’s no electricity whilst in the stadium the lights are all on full”, he argues.
According to data given to Escambray by the executive of Unión Eléctrica and the National Institute of Sport & Physical and Recreational Education (Inder), the total consumption of the lighting, the display screen and the internal services of the José Antonio Huelga stadium over five hours is 2 Megawatts. “That’s the equivalent of the power usage of eight homes over one whole month”, say the officials.
The provincial newspaper recognises that the data could be seen as the straw that broke the camel’s back but, they insist, the 28,000 spectators who have attended the eight League matches – plus the rest who watched on Television Cubana – balance the scales.
In the street however, there’s a different perspective. “I’ve not heard any positive commentary about the nighttime games. Even those who enjoy them think they should be played during the day”, says José Daniel.
“It’s true that people go to the games when there’s a power cut – they get changed and go to the stadium, but most of them don’t go in. Many of them stay outside because there’s light there and fresh air and you can sit down”, he explains. The rest of the city, he assures us, is switched off, “except for the hospital’s supply, which never loses power”.
The problem is that Sancti Spíritus is in the dark. At night you can only see the stadium and the odd house, because they’ve disconnected the streetlights too
“It’s not just a question of priorities and choosing between the games or the light”, he says. “The problem is that Sancti Spíritus is in the dark. At night you can only see the stadium and the odd house, because they’ve disconnected the streetlights too”.
“I don’t understand how the games can matter so much, or how it can matter so much to attract people when those people don’t want to go out at night for fear of being attacked in a dark street. Would it really be so bad for the players if the games were held in the daytime? Anyway, I’d prefer to have some light”, he asserts.
Escambray, whilst considering the same arguments as José, doesn’t come up with such quite straightforward answers. “The essential structural problems that the games suffer from won’t be solved by a simple change from nighttime to daytime matches”, the paper emphasizes. One solution would be to suspend them until such time as the country enjoys “better times”, but, Escambray admits, “no one knows when that will be”.
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
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